How To Run A Pellet Stove Without Electricity
Do you want to know how to run a pellet stove during a power outage? If you have a pellet stove and rely on it for your heat, then pay attention to this article.
Without electricity during the winter (severe storm, snow/ice, high winds), your home or cabin will get cold quick!
It’s really not that complicated to set this system up. I will first run through the calculations to exemplify typical power consumption of a pellet stove. Then we’ll see what we can do to keep it running during a power outage / blackout.
How Much Electricity Does A Pellet Stove Use?
First, as with all typical pellet stoves that I’m aware of, they require a 120 volt AC power source (typical in-home electricity).
Second, we need to discover the power power consumption or the AC current requirements before we can figure out what we will need to run our pellet stove during a power outage.
I am going to use my own pellet stove as an example, a Harman model.
The electrical requirements listed in their spec sheet are as follows, however I will give you real world measurements afterwards:
Start up: 4.0 amps (460 watts)
Run: 3.0 amps (345 watts)
Note: I am certain that these specs are for everything full-on or everything (all fans, auger speed, etc.) on highest setting, plus a margin…
My real world measurements are MUCH less during normal run time. When the ignitor initially fires up there is a brief condition (a few minutes) of higher consumption.
Real world measurements:
Start up: 3.0 amps (360 watts)
Run: 0.7 amps (80 watts averaged over time)
Battery & Inverter
Make your own emergency backup power source to run a pellet stove during a power outage. You will need at least one deep cycle 12-volt battery and an inverter to convert 12 volts DC to 120 volts AC.
DC to AC Inverter for Pellet Stove
The inverter that you choose will have to produce at least the maximum load of your pellet stove. In my case that would be 460 watts based on the Harman spec sheet, or 360 watts based on my real world measurements. It’s always wise to look at a worst case scenario when specifying a system, so lets look for a 500 watt inverter.
The only time when the inverter will be loaded down will be the few minutes when the ignitor is on. Otherwise it will be cruising well below it’s rated maximum during normal operation.
I have chosen the following inverter:
Samlex America PST-600-12 Pure Sine Wave Inverter (600 watts)
I have several Samlex America products and although a bit more expensive they are commercial grade. They’re professionally designed and built to safely operate electrical & electronics without damaging them. The “pure sine wave” output is the cleanest you can get, especially good and safe for electronic devices.
Think of it this way: This inverter can also be used for other duties to operated other 120 volt devices during an emergency, not just your pellet stove. Lights, a TV, etc..
Battery to Inverter Cables
You might either make up your own cables to connect from the battery to inverter or you might simply purchase one ready made. Bear in mind that you will need a cable set that can carry the full rating of the inverter. In my example, 600 watts, which is 50 amps (@ 12 volts DC).
The following set of 8 gauge jumper cables will do it. Simply cut the cable set in half and strip the non-clamp ends to bare wire. This will insert into the DC input connectors of the inverter.
A Cheaper Inverter
A less expensive inverter may still get the job done, and I have selected one for your consideration:
UFire Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter (500 watts)
(comes with alligator clip extension for battery connection)
Note that I have no experience with the UFire brand. I selected it due to its mostly favorable reviews. It is however a “modified sine wave” inverter (why it costs less) and not as “clean” as a pure sine wave inverter. That said, in many circumstances this will probably be okay for a pellet stove. Pure sine is better for electronic devices.
Battery For Pellet Stove During A Power Outage
Now that you have an inverter, you will need a battery! Here’s the important thing to remember: The battery must have enough capacity to run your pellet stove for a reasonable amount of time.
What does that translate to? A typical 12 volt “deep cycle” marine type battery will be rated for about 100 AH (Amp Hours). This will be displayed on the battery itself. And this will be your limiting factor as to how long you can run your pellet stove.
Let me explain…
If you are using a 100 AH rated 12vdc deep cycle battery, and if your pellet stove draws 100 watts on average, this battery will be 50% discharged in 6 hours.
100 watts = 8.3 amps (100 W / 12 VDC)
100 watts / 8.3 amps = 12 hours (fully discharged)
12/2 = 6 hours (50% discharged)
Important: Never fully discharge a lead acid battery. It will damage the battery. Rule of thumb not to discharge beyond 50% before recharging so to prolong the life of the battery.
Note: If you connect two batteries in parallel (plus to plus and minus to minus) you will double the capacity and run time.
Use Your Car Battery
Another alternative would be to connect your inverter to your car battery. Run an extension cord into your house to operate the pellet stove. You could start your vehicle up now and again to charge the battery.
Related article: Best Extension Cord
All you need is an inverter and battery (or batteries) to run your pellet stove during a power outage for a relatively short term period.
Although I indicated that a single typical 100 AH battery may run a typical pellet stove for 6 hours, in reality you might not have it running all of the time. This would lengthen your run time.
Also, your own stove may have different energy demands. Here is an excellent and inexpensive electrical meter that I use to measure the power consumption of appliances. I have a solar powered off-grid system and this has been invaluable while calculating energy needs.
I explain more about it in the following article:
How To Measure Energy Consumption Of Appliances
Hopefully this article has helped some of you who may have been concerned about losing the heating ability of your pellet stove during a power outage.
And before some of you say it, I’ll say it first… A wood stove won’t have this problem.